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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Leisure In The Here and Now

Today, I went surfing through the research database searching for something to write about. I was not sure what I was looking for. My last blog entry, published several days ago, was about leisure activity so I decided to see if I could improve my understanding of the topic and create a blog entry that would express what I found. A couple of new insights have immerged.
         Besides my personal comments I will refer to two articles and a book.1 In the first article, Kleibler et al report “Leisure is generally assumed to be the context with the greatest amount of freedom in one’s life…” Further in the article they quote another author who indicates that “…we should learn to view limits on the possibilities we face as liberating and not constraining”. The first of my “insights” was seeing meditation as a form of liberating leisure activity. 
          Other researchers, Tyson & Pongruengphant, state that “Stress is the difference between what is and what we think is, that is created by our motivations, needs desires, and expectations.”  I have been able to detach from these factors when, through meditation, I stay in the here and now.  I do this by chanting, paying close attention to the ringing in my ears and/or paying attention to my breath as it moves in and out of my nose.
         Kleibler et al also write that “Seeing constraint as an advantage is a kind of wisdom. It reflects an awareness of the value of discrimination and selection ‘reducing the noise’ of multiple possibilities to facilitate optimization of those activities that are most important.”
         That idea is very close to what R.A.I.N[i] does. In meditation terms it means: Recognition: Recognize thoughts as they emerge from my unconscious. Find a name for them.  Acceptance: Relax and accept them but don’t get attached. Investigate: Look deeply into what you are experiencing and finally Non-identification: Let go of the thoughts and return to concentrating on breathing.  Following this process allows me to stay in the here and now and at the same time continue investigating the vast number of interior “selves’ without getting attached to them.
          Kleiber et al then go on to state “…the emergence of some limitation or constraint often causes adjustments that bring benefits that would not otherwise have been foreseen, beyond simply the learning of resilience and perseverance.” This happens as a consequence of meditation.  Until now I had not thought of meditation as leisure activity. The beauty of it all is that we have the possibility to do this type of leisure activity any time, anywhere. And it is a marvelous counter process to stress.
         As I finish this blog entry, I want to make it clear that I have a long way to go before I reach a condition of  “enlightenment.” Life continues to be a long journey. The benefit of the leisure of meditation’s stress reduction is greatly appreciated as I travel along the path/  

1Klieber, D., McGuire, F.A., Aybar-Damali, B. & Norman, W. (2008)  Having more by doing     less: The paradox of leisure constraints in later life. Journal of Aging  Research, 40, 343-359.

Tyson, P.D. & Pongruengphant, R. (2007). Buddhist and western perspectives on suffering, stress, and coping. Journal of Religious Health, 46, 351-357
  Kornfield, J. (2008) The Wise Heart: A guide to the universal teachings of  Buddhist psychology, The Random House Publishing group

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